Israel Report

May 2001         

Powell's Whitewash of Terror

May 2, 2001
Just two weeks after his astonishing rebuke of Israel for using "excessive and disproportionate" force to defend itself in the face of Palestinian mortar attacks, US Secretary of State Colin Powell has now compounded his original sin by whitewashing the Palestinian Authority's involvement in terrorism. On April 30, Powell presided over the release of the State Department's annual Patterns of Global Terrorism Report, which is supposed to survey and identify those who aid, abet, support, and carry out acts of terror worldwide.

On the whole, it is an impressive document, filled with facts, figures, and dates that provide a useful portrait of the dangers posed by international terrorist groups. But when it comes to the section on the Middle East, Powell's report sadly descends into the realm of pure fiction, intentionally presenting a distorted and misleading description of the PA and its relationship to terror.

That the State Department would try to certify Yasser Arafat as kosher is hardly surprising, since it has been doing so for the past eight years in a forlorn attempt to confer legitimacy on him as a negotiating partner. Thus, even when Arafat has resorted to violence in the past, such as unleashing Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the February-March 1996 wave of terror bombings, the State Department remained largely mute, preferring to overlook Arafat's pesky habit of calling for holy war against Israel. To justify US policy in the Middle East, the State Department essentially became a public-relations firm for Arafat, polishing his image and enabling him to present himself to the world as a statesman and peacemaker.

This task became increasingly difficult, particularly when the PA launched its orchestrated campaign of terror against Israel in September 2000. Pictures of Palestinian policemen opening fire on Israeli soldiers, together with atrocities such as the lynching of two IDF reservists in Ramallah, left little doubt as to Arafat's direct responsibility for this campaign of carnage. Indeed, in recent weeks, senior military and intelligence officials, including the chief of General Staff, have all confirmed that the PA and its security services are actively engaged in planning, preparing, and executing a wide array of terrorist attacks against Israel, from drive-by shootings to suicide bombings. The evidence of the PA's involvement in terror is simply overwhelming. So what did Powell and his team of ghost-writers at the State Department decide to do? Quite simply, they ignored it.

Instead, the report paints a picture of a determined Palestinian Authority that is actively fighting terrorism, adopting strict punitive measures against Hamas and imprisoning those who carry out attacks against Israel. Only a well-honed imagination could produce such obtuse rubbish. Though the report does marginally mention that Israel "accused" and "charged" the PA with involvement in terror, it refuses to pass judgment and refrains from offering any of the amply available evidence to back up Israel's assertions.

The fact that the official PA media hail terrorists as "martyrs" and glorify acts of violence against Israelis is not deemed worthy of mention by the authors of the State Department report, nor is the poisonous antisemitic venom and incitement to violence contained in Palestinian textbooks. Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti's endless boasting about attacking Israel is not cited, nor is the PA's wholesale release of dozens of Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists. The State Department report is a disgraceful and scandalous misrepresentation of the truth, and it is to be hoped that the United States Congress, American Jewish organizations, and the Israeli government will confront Secretary Powell at the next possible opportunity about this inexcusable apologia for Palestinian terror.

But perhaps even more astonishing, as the Zionist Organization of America has pointed out, is that the Global Patterns of Terrorism report contradicts another State Department screed issued just several weeks earlier. In that report, on Palestinian compliance with the Oslo Accords, the State Department admitted that Arafat's Fatah faction is involved in terror: "Palestinian civilians throwing stones or Molotov cocktails were often joined by Palestinian police or Tanzim using firearmsÉ Elements of Fatah, a PLO faction, and members of the PA's security forces instigated and directly participated in anti-Israel violence." The discrepancy between the two State Department reports only reinforces the veracity of the old truism that the toughest part about telling a lie is remembering whom you told it to and what you told them. In the case of the State Department report on terror, the lie is both egregious and glaring.

See also "LOSING A WAR - WITH STYLE by Emanuel A. Winston" in our next newsletter. Subscribe here. Also see

©2001 - Jerusalem Post

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